With the 2018 season now in the books and the NFL Draft still a couple months away, I figured selecting an All-Decade team for the Miami Dolphins might be a fun exercise to pass the time. While my selections are purely subjective, I’m sure it is likely to inspire some lively debate. Feel free to mock my picks @S_Mangone1032.
Offense: 21 Personnel
QB- Ryan Tannehill: I considered making this an All-Millennium team, purely so I could include Chad Pennington’s 2008 season on this list. Since I opted to keep it within the decade, Tannehill is the choice. While Matt Moore received some consideration, the final nod has to go to Tannehill. With one more season left this decade, maybe Miami will finally get it right and draft a quarterback in the upcoming draft that lights the league on fire and can make up for a decade of fairly average play at the quarterback position.
HB- Jay Ajayi: I went back and forth between Ajayi and Reggie Bush but ultimately went with Ajayi. Without Ajayi and his 1272 rushing yards, Miami most likely doesn’t make the playoffs for the only time this decade in 2016, so he is the choice.
FB- Lousaka Polite: One of my favorite Dolphins in recent memory. I included a fullback on this team as opposed to three wide receivers purely so I could include Lousaka. While only playing one season this decade for Miami, he deserves recognition. 3rd or 4th and short was practically automatic when handing him the ball. Miami hasn’t used a fullback for the better part of this decade so it will be interesting to see if that changes under new head coach Brian Flores. If he can bring in the next Lousaka, I am all for it.
WR- Jarvis Landry: One of the easiest decisions on this list. Landry went to the Pro Bowl three out of his four years in Miami before being traded to the Browns. While it became a little frustrating watching Adam Gase call bubble screen after bubble screen to Landry, you can’t deny his production during his time in Miami.
WR- Brian Hartline: Toss-up between Hartline and Brandon Marshall for the second wide receiver spot but Hartline gets the nod due to expectations versus production. Miami traded two 2nd round picks to obtain Marshall from the Broncos, expecting him to become a dominant wide receiver to build around. While he did have back-to-back 1000 yard seasons during his two years in Miami, he will ultimately be remembered for his numerous drops, particularly in the end zone during his time here. Hartline on the other hand was drafted in the 4th round by Miami in the 2009 draft and had several productive seasons, including back-to-back 1000 yard seasons of his own.
TE- Charles Clay: A case can be made for Anthony Fasano here but I ultimately went with Clay. He wasn’t the blocker that Fasano was but was much more of a threat in the passing game. While he may not have made a Pro Bowl during his time in Miami, we haven’t seen much production out of the tight end position since he signed with Buffalo.
LT- Jake Long: While selecting Matt Ryan over Long in 2008 may have saved Miami from a decade of agony, it is easy to forget just how dominant Long was protecting the blindside during his time with the Dolphins. Unfortunately, Long didn’t have a quality quarterback to protect while earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in four of his five season for the Dolphins.
LG- Richie Incognito: Bully-gate aside, Incognito was a solid guard for the Dolphins during his four years with the team. It has been a revolving door of mediocrity at the position since he was suspended and subsequently cut due to his role in Bullygate.
C- Mike Pouncey: Prior to a number of injuries taking their toll, Pouncey was one the best centers in the NFL. Miami decided to move on from him after the 2017 season and he proceeded to return to form and made the Pro Bowl while playing for the Chargers this year.
RG- Mike Pouncey: One of the most disappointing positions over the last decade. Due to the lack of talent at this position, Pouncey gets the nod yet again despite only playing one season at the right guard position in 2014. While not as effective at guard as he was at center, the alternatives weren’t pretty. Billy Turner anyone?
RT- Ja’Waun James: Toss-up between James and Vernon Carey. James gets the nod because Carey only spent one season at the tackle positon before making the transition to guard for a year. Will be interesting to see whether Miami decides James is a building block going forward or lets him walk during free agency.
Defense: 4-3 Personnel
DE- Jason Taylor: I don’t care if JT was scout team quarterback during his one year with Miami this decade, he was making the cut. While that may be a bit dramatic, he wasn’t the dominant force we were used to after coming back to Miami in 2011 following one strange year with the Jets. He still managed to notch seven sacks and retire as a Dolphin and that is reason alone to include the Hall of Famer.
DT- Ndamukong Suh: While he never quite lived up to his massive $114 million contract, it’s not his fault Miami signed him to such a ridiculous contract for a defensive tackle. Contract aside, Suh was a productive player during his time in Miami and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2016.
DT- Randy Starks: Starks gets the nod for the second defensive tackle spot but Paul Soliai could just as easily justify a spot here. I ultimately went with Starks over Soliai because he offered more as a pass-rusher.
DE- Cam Wake: Who else? One of the most talented pass-rushers in the NFL this decade, Wake has made a strong case for the Hall of Fame once he calls it a career. With 98 career sacks, Wake will retire as Miami’s second all-time leader in sacks, behind only Taylor’s 131.
LB- Karlos Dansby: While he wasn’t the playmaker that Miami was hoping for when they signed him from Arizona in 2010, Dansby was still a quality linebacker for the Dolphins. Moving on from him in favor of the overpriced and unproductive Dannell Ellerbe was always a mystery to me.
LB- Kiko Alonso: The next two spots at linebacker were tough to decide. Miami hasn’t been particularly strong at the position this decade so there weren’t many top options to choose from. Kiko gets the spot here due to his penchant for making big plays.
LB- Kevin Burnett: Ultimately the last linebacker spot was between Koa Misi and Burnett. Burnett was the choice despite only playing two seasons in Miami because frankly, he was available. That is one quality that unfortunately couldn’t be said about Misi. Despite his short tenure with the Dolphins, he was a productive linebacker during his time here, amassing over 100 tackles both seasons. Hopefully either Jerome Baker or Raekwon McMillon can take over this spot this time next year.
CB – Brent Grimes: While Grimes only spent three years in Miami, he certainly made an impact during his time here. With three trips to the Pro Bowl and 13 interceptions, Grimes was an easy choice for one of the corner spots. Undersized but extremely athletic, Grimes was the best corner to play for the Dolphins since Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison patrolled the secondary in Miami.
CB – Xavien Howard: Grimes may have some competition for the top corner spot next year if Howard keeps playing the way he has been for the last year and a half. With 11 interceptions during that span, Howard is well on his way to becoming one of the elite corners in the league. It will be interesting to see how Miami handles his upcoming contract situation after stating he wants to be the highest paid corner in the league.
FS- Minkah Fitzpatrick: This one is more of a projection than anything else. Couple that with the fact that Miami hasn’t exactly fielded quality players at the free safety spot this decade and it became a fairly easy choice. Reshad Jones did spend some time at free safety but his play style is more suited for the strong safety spot. While Minkah did play some free safety this year as a rookie, he also spent a lot of time in the slot and even some as a boundary corner. If Flores keeps him at the free safety spot next year, I fully expect him to develop into a Pro Bowl caliber player and hopefully we won’t have to worry about a once problematic position for the foreseeable future.
SS- Reshad Jones: One of the easier spots to fill on this list. Jones has been one of the better safeties in the league since being drafted in the 5th round in 2010. If a big play was being made in the secondary, chances are it was #20 making the play. How he was only voted to a pair of Pro Bowl’s is beyond me.